Upgrading video card Dell Dimension 8400

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Upgrading video card Dell Dimension 8400

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I would like to upgrade my video card in my Dell Dimension 8400.  I currently have an ATI Radeon X800 256mb.  My current RAM is 3GB.  I am looking to run some of the latest games at a good frame rate and do some other video projects.  The X800 I currently have is starting to show its age.  Some games won't even run.

I would appreciate any suggestions.  I'm still running the 350W power supply.  So if I have to upgrade that to get a good card to work then I'll have to consider it.  Also, are the fans in the 8400 and video card enough to prevent overheating.

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  • You could squeak by with a new video card, keeping the 350  Watter.

    My suggestion would be to replace the video card(VGA) with one to last more than a year, and a power supply (PSU) to go with it.

    Power supply: Note that Dell uses a different wiring configuration, and you do NOT want to go to Best Buy to find one, it will not work.

    In addition, the PSU is the most important component in your PC. If the PSU's internal control devices fail, your MB, VGA, memory, and CPU can fry. The qulity of a CPU can best be judged by brand and reputation. Dell uses PSUs based on bid, made by others and bought in bulk. They buy workhorse brands such as Allied, never approaching the quality and longgevity of Antec (not Basiq), Enermax, Seasonic, PC Power and Cooling, and Corsair.

    New Egg currantly has a PSU from PC Power And Cooling, arguably the best consumer brand, specially made for Dells, 500Watts, for $75 delivered. You will not need more Watts unless running two video cards.

     -->http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817703016

     

    Video Card: I'm sure there are many opinions on here for this. I recommend staying with ATI, as it has played nice with your chipset, and be sure that it offers 10.1 DirX.

    My choice would be-->http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102822 ; $99 plus shipping, powerful card from quality company. It comes with a rebate, but I base my buying decisions as though the rebate wasn't there, and send it in anyway.

    Whichever card you buy, don't use the supplied disc for drivers; download the newest drivers directly from ATI!!

  • FYI-

    #1 Dell has NOT used Proprietary power supplies since Pentium 3 or older systems.  Sorry i forget Exactly when, but the OP's 8400 uses a standard ATX psu.  Just be sure to always get a minimum amount of connectors to outnumber the stock psu.

     

    #2. If i were to upgrade, i would go with PC Power also which i have in the past,  BUT, the OP's 350w "Underrated" Dell psu, can handle well over 400w (more like 450w) w/o breaking a sweat.

     

    #3  The Card posted by ddd1ddd is a decent upgrade, which will never see its potential with being bottlenecked by the P4 CPU, but you can use it in a future system if you want.  That card does need the slot directly below it to be empty in order to fit

     

    As i said, you can probably use that card with your stock psu w/o an issue.

     

    Also, i have not seen any issue with an Intel express chipset with Ati or nVidia chip vid cards either.

    So if you want to get an 8800GT or 9800GT you could do that too.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814187030

     

    this particular one needs (2) 4-pin molex connectors for the included adapter

  • Thank you very much for your input.  I going ahead an upgrading both the PCU (now $50 with rebate) and the VC.  I know that Dell recommends having an additional card fan installed for video cards running over 75W.  The fan on the VC should be sufficient, right?

  • lpprikej

    FYI-

    #1 Dell has NOT used Proprietary power supplies since Pentium 3 or older systems.  Sorry i forget Exactly when, but the OP's 8400 uses a standard ATX psu.  Just be sure to always get a minimum amount of connectors to outnumber the stock psu.

     

    #2. If i were to upgrade, i would go with PC Power also which i have in the past,  BUT, the OP's 350w "Underrated" Dell psu, can handle well over 400w (more like 450w) w/o breaking a sweat.

     

    #3  The Card posted by ddd1ddd is a decent upgrade, which will never see its potential with being bottlenecked by the P4 CPU, but you can use it in a future system if you want.  That card does need the slot directly below it to be empty in order to fit.

     

    #1 Good information, glad Dell stopped back that far, what a pain it caused, needlessly, to dictate proprietary PSUs.

    #2 The OP's 350 Watt may squeak by, but with all of the heat in the case from gaming, the PSU will lose efficiency, and be giving less power, not more. A PSU is most efficient when operating between 25% and 75% of capacity. Taking a PSU beyond that will hinder performance, cause even more heat, and stress the PSU. These circumstances may be poorly suited to hoping the PSU will give 400 or 450 Watts.

    #3 More good information about the fit. The Op may have to move any PCI device, if present,  just below the card to another open PCI slot, if available, worth checking.

     

  • You two have made excellent points and I appreicate your help.  The PSU and cooling were my concerns when upgrading.  I do have one PCI slot empty below the VC slot so I should have no problems fitting it in.  The next PCI slot below the emply one has the sound card installed.  Is there a minimum distance that I need to consider between the VC and sound card to ensure proper airflow?

  • you should be fine.

  • This is an older post, so you have probably already performed your upgrade, but I just ran into the same situation with an almost identical rig as yours, found these posts to be helpful, and wanted to share my solution with anybody else who was looking over the forums.  I upgraded to the ATI HD 4770 and it works great without any need to upgrade the cooling or power supply.  After some research, I found that the 4770 uses only about 20-30 watts more power than the X800 XT (which is what I was running), which is much less than some of the ATI HD 4800 series cards, which can draw in excess of 100 more watts.  The card does not get hot with the standard 8400 cooling on my machine and the performance is great.  I can now play the SM3.0 games the X800 didn't support (Mass Effect looks great) and the other games I've been playing look even better.  The performance of the 4770 falls higher than the 4830 and just below the 4850, but the difference in power consumption is huge between the 4770 and the 4850.  Of course, on this system, the 4770 can't live up to its potential because of the processor and the PCIe 1.0 bus, but when I build my own system next year, the card will perform even better.  Hope this is helpful for someone looking to do the same upgrade, but without the desire to upgrade their power supply.

  • lpprikej

    FYI-

    #1 Dell has NOT used Proprietary power supplies since Pentium 3 or older systems.  Sorry i forget Exactly when, but the OP's 8400 uses a standard ATX psu.  Just be sure to always get a minimum amount of connectors to outnumber the stock psu.

    It may be standard ATX, but the power plug may be in a different spot, which means the case would have to be modified to accept a standard ATX power supply.

    I had this issue with a Dimension 4550. I tried to install one of my generic units, and it wouldn't fit. I managed to find one on Newegg that did.

     

  • Yes very true and my bad for not adding that.  i guess my point was that connection-wise it is an ATX wired PSU.  My system also had the power plug moved which is common for Dell. so if you didnt want to cut a hole, you would have to get a Hi-Pro psu, a PC power and Cooling or another with the power input in the correct location.

  • Thank you for the post.  It is timely for me because I am considering buying a used 8400 and will add video, sound and WIFI cards.  I am curious though,  what do you mean by PCIe 1.0 bus? I know I am showing my ignorance but I only know the PCIe slots as 1x and 16x.  Also I would appreciate recommendations for sound  and WIFI cards.